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Impact & Stories

CHN resident sits at his desk and smiles at the camera

Meet Ayaan

As a child, Ayaan, her father, and her five siblings immigrated to the U.S. Adjusting to a new country and different culture was especially difficult for the young girl without her mother, who stayed behind in Somalia.

She was eager to fit in and got involved with a bad crowd. Her relationship with her father was strained. When she became pregnant at 17, she was on her own. With nobody to turn to and nowhere to go, she knew she could not provide a good life for her daughter. Although it broke her heart, she gave up custody and turned to alcohol to cope.

She later ended in an abusive relationship and had twin daughters. She did not want to raise children in such a dangerous environment and made the difficult decision to allow her sister to raise them. Ayaan found the strength to leave her abuser but unfortunately, she was unable to get her identification and her immigration documentation from him. This made it impossible to find a job or housing, but as she explained, “When you’re worried about where to lay your head at night, you’re not worried about things like immigration or getting a job.”

She stayed in a women’s shelter for a while, but ultimately ended up homeless. She sometimes committed petty crimes with the intention of getting arrested because she knew she would be safer in jail than on the street. Eventually, police took her to Twin Valley Behavioral Health Center. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and now reflects that she used alcohol to self-medicate.

Ayaan joined AA and worked through the steps with her sponsor. She stayed in an in-patient recovery house run by North Central Mental Health Services (NCMH), where she still participates in group and individual counseling. Ayaan moved into CHN independent housing in 2021.

With support from her CHN Supportive Housing Coordinator, Simona, and NCMH, she has maintained sobriety and turned her life around. She received help to reapply for immigration, received her green card, then became a U.S. citizen. She earned her GED and has held a steady job for 5 years, but she’s working toward a career in phlebotomy. She got her driver’s license and bought a car. She was able to reconnect with her father before he passed away and is working on rebuilding relationships with her sister and children. While she is proud of these incredible accomplishments, she is most proud of her sobriety and says that without that, she wouldn’t have anything else.

Ayaan is learning to manage her money, and with Simona’s help she is taking steps toward becoming a homeowner. She looks forward to owning her own home – one she hopes to someday leave to her children.

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